School of Music
Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)
music, Khmer Rouge songs, Democratic Kampuchea, public pedagogy
Anthropology | Music
Lesh, Anissa Jade, "The Music of Democratic Kampuchea: Revolution Songs as Public Pedagogy" (2023). Masters Theses. 1021.
The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 utilized a variety of methods to ensure control over the country and its people. Among these methods were the creation and dissemination of revolutionary songs which extolled the virtues of the CPK, instilled fear, and provided explicit instructions on how to serve the Ângka (the organization). While scholars unanimously recognize the use of music as public pedagogy during the regime, there are very few works which explore the songs, their lyrics, or how the music itself reflected their intended sociopolitical purpose. Through the transcription, translation, and analysis of fourteen revolutionary songs— archived by the Documentation Center of Cambodia— it is revealed that these songs and their lyrics were intentionally composed to ensure their effectiveness as a form of public pedagogy and indoctrination. This shines light not only on the totality with which the CPK sought to control the Cambodian population, but also on the strength of music as public pedagogy and the role it plays in the identity of a people and their culture.
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